IPHONE 8 / 10 GPS vs old Samsung S3 and
Screen captures were from Google Earth and are copyright Google
Earth. Tracks on these screen captures are copyright Don Samuels
A while ago when I dropped my Samsung S6 one too many times, and
it could not be reliably repaired, I went to the ATT store and
bought an Iphone 8 and went over to the dark side. Comparing
Iphone to Samsung is not black and white. There are some things
that Apple does better and some it does worse. However for the
purposes of this web page I am only going to discuss the GPS
I first noticed an issue when sometimes I am driving and letting
Google Maps navigate me, the navigation resets because it thinks I
got off on an exit ramp when I did not.
Then as I was using "runkeeper" (great app even if you are not a
runner and I am not), to record my hikes in the woods, I noticed
errors that I felt were unacceptable (25 to 50 feet off).
While my Samsung S6 is completely dead, my older S3 still works
as a computer, just not a phone as the SIM card is no longer
provisioned. So I did an experiment of a short hike, on roads, as
well as in the woods, with both the Iphone and the S3 recording in
runkeeper. I then exported the tracks to Google Earth.
I have the S3 track blinking on and off so that you
can see the actual trail in the woods that I hiked.
Here is an animation of both sets of tracks, the S3 in green and
the Iphone in red:
- On Emerald Road, the S3 is spot on. I walked on the edge of
the road. It could be that Apple did what Google sometimes does
and notes I am on a road and centers. I was not in airplane mode
(more on this below)
- In the woods you can see the trail as the S3 blinks on and
off. Clearly for this small test the S3 is much better than the
Marina pointed out that perhaps having the cell service on
interferes as the phone may take into account the towers in its
algorithm as well. So the next experiment was during a horseback
ride with Marina (a smart person would just do the same experiment
over and over controlling the varibles, and I may do just that using
the short walk above for each iteration) where I put the Iphone 8
into airplane mode.
Here is that horse back ride:
Now the ride is over 1.5 miles each way
and zooming so that the full ride can be seen it is hard to see
which is better. The advantage of this path is there is more open
space (no trees) and more trees) so one can try and diagnose. The
color coding is the same as before Iphone in red and S3 in green.
Going first to the turn around point, it is in an open meadow and
the trail is clearly visible in Google Earth:
As before the S3 is clearly better than the Iphone. We rode on the
trail till the turnaround, where we went off to let the horses
However under the trees, there was one point where the S3 was
So I am not sure what happened here.
Finally, (at least for now) Marina and I took a walk. Marina has an
Iphone 10, so I thought that would be good to compare. Iphone 8 is
in red (always) and the 10 is in orange:
This walk did not go as far as the horseback ride. We
did not get to the meadows, but instead turned around at the South
Fork of Willowbrook.
Qualitatively I judge the 8 and 10 to be equal in accuracy. Cell
phones were not in airplane mode for this test.
I do also have a Garmin GPSmap 76CS. I find this unit is not
nearly as good as a cell phone, but I will repeat one or more of
these experiments to compare. Unless someone out there can give me
hints to improve Iphone GPS accuracy, it may be when the Iphone 8
gets dropped one too many times I will go back to Samsung. As you
can tell, GPS is really really really really important to me
living next to the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
Snowedunder's home page.
This page last updated on July 26, 2019 by Don Samuels